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By tinawiffen, Jul 26 2018 02:32PM

Friday was our annual bat emergence count at Brinkburn Priory in the Coquet valley, a lovely site cared for by English Heritage. The Priory is known to support at least five bat species.

It was a warm, still night when 17 bat group members, including some new members, met to carry out the count. As it is a big complicated site, lots of surveyors mean we can get a much better understanding of how bats are using the Priory and as we had so much help, the Manor House was surveyed too.

The total number of bats emerging from the Priory was 365, with Daubenton’s bat and soprano pipistrelle the most numerous. Natterer’s bat, common pipistrelle and brown long-eared bat were present too. We recorded new exit points in the door canopy and from the roof, so as always, added more to our knowledge of how bats use the church. This is the highest count we have recorded for Brinkburn Priory, the next highest count was 189 bats in June 2014.

The Manor House was surveyed too, with eight exit points found, with common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and at least one Myotis bat species emerging, with a count of 16+ bats recorded.

Thanks to everyone who came and helped, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


By Nicola Faulks, Mar 19 2018 07:28PM

The AGM took place as usual at the Hancock or Great North Museum, Newcastle. The attendance was good with 16 members turning up (some from Durham Bat Group too). The evening started with coffee and biscuits and some socialising, followed by the AGM. The AGM minutes will be posted on the website in the Member’s Area, so will not be gone into detail here, but suffice it to say, the AGM agenda was covered quite quickly and the committee positions elected and filled. This year we have too new general committee members, so we would like to welcome Mandy and Jo to the committee.

Following the AGM bits, there was another short coffee break, followed by Hugh Watson’s talk on bats at sea. Hugh has had some SM2 detectors out on the islands of Coquet; Inner Farne, Brownsman (both part of the Farne Islands); and Holy Island. Over the years he has collated the data and has tried to answer a number of hypotheses. One being: does the Nathusius’ pipistrelle migrate across the North Sea to our coast, therefore will there be a significant increase in recordings of Nathusius on an easterly wind, which happens with migratory (or lost) birds. Ultimately however, he found that there was no obvious relationship between the number of Nathusius calls and wind direction, nor wind speed.

What was also interesting about his results were the species that he was recording out on these islands. Bat pass numbers were low, but it seems that some species, even myotis, may be flying out to sea to forage, on calm nights. Interesting also that the detector also recorded a Leisler’s bat, a species often hotly debated as to its residential status in Northumberland.

On a more global scale, Hugh also talked about the likely migration route of Nathusius pipistrelle from Europe to the South of England, Holland to Kent for example, and compared this route with the location of current and proposed wind farms. It will be very interesting to see if wind farms (at sea) are having an impact on migratory bats, but how could this be determined?

All in all it was a really interesting talk. It will also be good to find out what the latest set of results from his monitoring are, because not all of the data collated to date has been analysed – so watch this space, if we get an update!

By Nicola Faulks, Feb 18 2018 09:11AM

Blasius horseshoe bat in the hand.
Blasius horseshoe bat in the hand.

Nic Faulks presented a talk on Bats in the Republic of Georgia. This was a different talk to last year’s which was more about survey methodology in forest areas, this talk presented the findings of a summer and winter survey of a limestone karst area, in central Georgia.

The main topic of the talk was horseshoe bats. In the UK we have two species, greater and letter horseshoe bat. The greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) emits calls which are between 69-83kHz, and generally at 83kHz. The lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) emits calls which average about 110kHz, but calls can be lower, causing overlap with two other species (no present in the UK), The Mediterranean bat (Rhinolophus Euryale) and Mehelyi’s horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi).

After the initial summer surveys, where two Anabat express units, located in two separate caves recorded 10, 000+ calls in 5 nights of recording, it was decided that further surveys were required. The summer data pointed to the presence of at least three species of horseshoe bat being present. In addition to which, one horseshoe seemed to be calling at around 92kHz…. Research on-online and conversations via email, confirmed that this was probably the less common, species Blasius’ horseshoe bat Rhinolophus blasii). But confirmation was needed.

Winter hibernation surveys were undertaken, by accessing the caves in and around the survey area. Supported by a Croatian bat expert Igor Pavlinic, who has handled all five species before, the surveyors went to find out what species were present, to photograph and confirm. After a week of searching caves and tunnels, we didn’t find any roosts of significance, maximum count was 7 bats in one cave (of three horseshoe species) but what we did do was confirm that the following species were present: Lesser and greater horseshoe - always roosting close to the cave/tunnel entrance - where ambient temperatures are cooler; Blasius and Mediterranian horseshoe bats – always found deeper in the cave/tunnel with an ambient temperature of 20c. In one tunnel we found a complete head skeleton of a bat. This was taken back to the Natural History Museum of Croatia, and confirmed to be that of the Balasius horseshoe bat; finally confirming, through skeletal remains, in the hand and by sonogram, that this species is present in Georgia.

Mediterranean Bats in a Tunnel
Mediterranean Bats in a Tunnel

By Nicola Faulks, Jan 14 2018 10:15PM

This was our first survey of the 2017-18 season. We checked six adits; all of which are registered with the Bat Conservation Trust’s National Bat Monitoring Programme.

The sites are all lead mine horse levels, narrow tunnels usually lined with stone arching which gives the bats a range of places to roost. Each adit is searched from the entrance inwards by a small team of surveyors led by an experienced and licensed bat worker, minimising the disturbance to any bats found.

Its good fun searching for bats, the tunnels are dirty and wet and the bats can be hard to see, I am sure we are missing more than we find.

The first site we surveyed was our furthest walk in, and hardest to get to at 600m asl, here we recorded five bats, three brown long-eared bats and two Daubenton’s bats. Only one bat was tucked within the arching, the others were hanging openly against the shale section of the adit.

We only found one more bat during the day, tucked deep into the arching in a different adit. This bat was much harder to find….

Moths are the most common species, that we see within the adits, with low counts of Herald moth and a single Tissue moth found. This is a new site record for this moth, which is uncommon in northern Cumbria.

By Nicola Faulks, Jan 14 2018 09:23PM

In order to bring the NBG website up to date it will now have a blog page and this is the first entry. The blog will be a location where information on recent events can be posted, along with photographs. At the moment photographs go on Facebook, but they often get lost in the lime line. Here things can stay and act as an archive. :-)

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